University of Michigan athlete Brienne Minor made history as the first African American woman to ever win the NCAA Division I tennis singles title in 2017. The last African American to win a singles title in Division I tennis was Arthur Ashe over 50 years ago.
Minor plays in a sport dominated by white athletes, despite tennis having a worldwide presence. Tennis has always been mostly white, and the Minors felt that firsthand.
Brienne ‘Bri’ Minor isn’t your typical tennis star. She’s not the highest-ranked player on the Michigan Wolverines’ Women’s tennis team. She wasn’t even seeded as a singles player going into last season’s NCAA Championships.
But on May 29, 2017, everything changed. That Monday, Minor shocked herself and the rest of the tennis world by winning the singles championship.
“Going in unseeded, no one expected anything from me,” Minor said. “I actually loved being unseeded. I loved being the underdog.”
And it was an underdog story for the ages. Minor’s run made her the first Wolverine in the program’s history to win a championship.
“That week I just kinda got on a roll,” Minor said. “The team event was over; I was just kinda playing for myself. … Day by day, each match.”
Minor’s championship-winning match — after five grueling wins prior — was against Florida’s Belinda Woolcock, who she defeated 6-3, 6-3. Three of the six matches were against top-16 seed opponents. When Minor won, she threw her racket in the air, the defiant celebration of someone who beat multiple of the country’s best players.
“It was a surprise to me,” Minor said, speaking of her title win.
For winning the championship, she earned a wildcard spot at the U.S. Open.
Minor saw all the greats in one place, and for a moment, played in the same tournament as some of her tennis idols. She called it the best experience of her life.
Source : Maya Salinas, “Brienne Minor makes history“, Michigan Today, March 26, 2018.